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Inday and gifts that give

She was struggling when I first met Inday in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am referring to the doll made of recycled waste materials and discarded coffee capsules that aid workers in Negros Occidental made to pay tribute to women facing the challenges posed by the pandemic.

The Inday statuette made by the skillful hands of artisans of the Negrense Volunteers for Change (NVC) Foundation then was called, “Inday in the Time of COVID-19: UNDAUNTED”.

Back then, the statuette represented every woman or person who was facing the crisis with confidence. Millie Kilayko, president of NVC Foundation described Inday two years ago as “a woman who faced life with faith, with hope and will not be daunted by any crisis. She is a person of courage”.

Inday today: more relaxed, modern but has retained her sense of being a Filipina, more at ease about revealing herself and her personality; right, (2020) Inday in the Time of Covid-19: UNDAUNTED*
Artisans of Hope. All busy making Christmas ornaments made of coffee capsules, capiz shells and recycled waste materials as orders keep coming.*

Fast forward to the Indays I saw at the recently-concluded 36th Negros Trade Fair in Makati City. The Indays were seated on a shelf wearing Filipino-inspired dresses but their skirts a few inches above the knee, no shoes and with their masks on. But even with partially covered faces, their aura radiated cheerfulness and showed that they are well adapting with the new normal.  Dauntless still, but these Indays are happier, carefree and more confident.

Inday has survived the crisis, is more relaxed and has learned to rise above the crisis. She has not removed her sense of being Filipina, that is why her outfit is still Filipino-inspired but her shorter skirt indicates that she is more at ease about revealing herself, her personality, her feelings and her opinions,” explained Kilayko.

But these statuettes which are part of the Inday Series are more than just eye candy as these are art pieces made of pulverized eggshells, capiz shell trimmings and recycled waste materials, were meticulously designed and crafted by NVC Foundation’s Artisans of Hope.

“Part of the livelihood project of the foundation is to train artisans to produce products that we also help market for them,” explained Kilayko.

Aside from the cost, everything else goes back to the foundation for its programs like serving meal bags through its Feeding Force Project under COVID while some were distributed during emergency relief operations.

NVC Foundation was the first NGO to reach Brgy. Bonifacio of Burdeos in Polillo Island in Quezon Province where Typhoon Karding first made landfall.*
Netflix asked NVC Foundation’s Artisans Of Hope to create functional pieces for them. It’s now a circle that weaves movie moments with mosaic magic and Mingo Meals served that comes with every product from the livelihood workshop according to Kilayko; right, Gifts that Give. Christmas ornaments handcrafted by the Artisans of Hope of NVC Foundation that when bought, will help feed a hungry child, support a local artisan’s livelihood and help save the planet.*

But aside from Inday being a popular and best-selling gift item in the trade fair, the artisans’ Christmas ornaments also sold like hotcakes at the fair. They call these “Gifts that Give” because when one buys a Christmas ornament, like the Mingo Upcycled Christmas Ball from them, a hungry child is fed, a local artisan’s livelihood is supported and the buyer is even able to help save the planet.

Each upcycled ornament feeds an undernourished child Mingo Meals daily for either 1 month or 3 months straight and comes with a gift box and a card. Mingo is a nutritious instant complementary food made of rice, mongo (mung beans) and malunggay (moringa). Each sachet is about 80 calories and provides protein, fat, vitamins A, C, B1, B6, potassium, iron, calcium and zinc. It is mixed with water to make a porridge, soup or drink. It is a daily supplement given to children in the foundation’s nutrition program to aid their development and give them a better start in life.

Other Christmas ornaments the artisans are making and selling are the standing angel ornaments and upcycled parols, the proceeds of which will be used for the livelihood program and the different programs of the foundation like the Mingo Meals for nutrition and emergency relief operations that started in 2011 and has already served 22,420,313 undernourished children as of September 30 this year.  

Truly nothing beats celebrating the tradition of sharing during the holiday season than giving gifts that are practical and those that come with a cause just like a card made by the artisans that is a multiple gift, as Kilayko describes it, because it is the gift of good food, nutrition and a gift one can hang on a tree! May we all choose to give “gifts that give” this holiday season as we continue to give hope and spread love and Christmas cheer amid the pandemic.*

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November 2022

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